Cana­dian Club

Breath­ing life into trails and an ac­tive com­mu­nity

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Rob Stur­ney

The Dead Ox Trail­blaz­ers breathe life into trails and an ac­tive com­mu­nity

Of­ten the clubs that Cana­di­an­cy­cling­magazine pro­files have feisty names, such as the Sis­ters of No Mercy or Portage Junk Yard Dogs. A unique, recre­ation-ori­ented club that works and plays on the Man­i­toba Es­carp­ment goes by the in­trigu­ing moniker of Dead Ox Trail­blaz­ers Inc. The club is based around the east side of Rid­ing Moun­tain Na­tional Park – about 240 km north­west of Win­nipeg – with mem­bers com­ing from the nearby towns of Mc­creary, Nor­gate and Lau­rier. Rid­ing Moun­tain’s forests are in stark con­trast to the prairie farm­land around them. Club pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor Pam Lit­tle says the name comes from Dead Ox Creek, which runs onto the prairie on the east side of the park. The creek was named, one story goes, af­ter the skele­tal re­mains of a beast of bur­den on its bank that home­stead­ers trav­el­ling through the area used to ori­ent them­selves.

Dead Ox Trail­blaz­ers Inc. de­signs, builds and main­tains trails around the East Gate Reg­is­tra­tion Com­plex and en­dorses their use. “We’re ded­i­cated to self-pro­pelled ad­ven­ture and learn­ing in the out­doors,” Lit­tle says. “Mem­bers share skills, knowl­edge and en­thu­si­asm for out­doors pur­suits. Most of all, we pro­mote good, safe and fun out­door lifestyles."

Founded in 2014 by lo­cal cy­clists and Parks Canada em­ploy­ees Scott Bryer, Dennis Buh­ler and Reade Tereck, the Dead Ox group fi rst worked on Reeve’s Ravine Trail in the park af­ter reach­ing an agree­ment with Rid­ing Moun­tain’s au­thor­i­ties. With the trail still un­fin­ished and Dead Ox mind­ful of strength in num­bers, the rid­ers amal­ga­mated with the Mc­creary Ski and Out­door Club, which Lit­tle had formed five years ear­lier. Dead Ox Trail­blaz­ers added cross-coun­try skiers, hik­ers, bird­ers, pad­dlers and snow­shoe en­thu­si­asts to its ranks and con­tin­ued to build trails for year­round use. To this end, the club has held sev­eral trail build clin­ics with imba Canada and Parks Canada.

But Dead Ox isn’t just about wield­ing mat­tocks, sand­viks and “goon­spoons.” Spring is when the club holds weekly Kids of Mud learn-to­moun­tain-bike clin­ics at the East Gate Reg­is­tra­tion Com­plex. Group rides are held in the spring, sum­mer and fall. Be­yond two-wheel fun, mem­bers en­joy weekly hikes and reg­u­lar pad­dles at places such as Clear Lake. In the win­ter, cross-coun­try ski­ing spe­cialty clin­ics on wax­ing and skate ski­ing aug­ment Cross-coun­try Ski Canada pro­grams, such as Bunny Rab­bits, Jackrab­bits and Track At­tack, all for young ath­letes.

Lit­tle notes that Dead Ox serves a ru­ral area of about 2,000 Man­i­to­bans that is down on its luck eco­nom­i­cally. She says, “We have be­come a mul­ti­sport club out of ne­ces­sity to fill gaps and de­crease bar­ri­ers for chil­dren, youth and adults that lack op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in non-mo­tor­ized out­door pur­suits.” All the pro­grams are highly sub­si­dized by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and pro­vin­cial and fed­eral agen­cies, so that they are in­clu­sive to ev­ery­one. “Also, there’s sup­port from our lo­cal health re­gion due to our fo­cus on healthy out­door ac­tiv­i­ties,” she says.

If you’re in the area and are tan­ta­lized by the idea of rolling a well-de­signed and groomed for­est trail sur­rounded by prairie, Lit­tle rec­om­mends Reeve’s Ravine by the East Gate.

“We’re ded­i­cated to self-pro­pelled ad­ven­ture and learn­ing in the out­doors.”

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